Peter John Olivi and Peter Auriol on conceptual thought

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This paper explores the accounts of conceptual thought of Peter John Olivi (1248-1298) and Peter Auriol (1280-1322). While both thinkers are known for their criticism of representationalist theories of perception, it is argued that they part ways when it comes to analyzing conceptual cognition. To account for the human capacity for conceptual thought, Olivi is happy to make a number of concessions to indirect realist theories of representation. Insofar as he criticizes a specific branch of indirect realism about conceptual thought, he does so for theological, rather than strictly epistemological reasons. This goes to qualify recent, philosophical interpretations of Olivi’s Tractatus de verbo. By contrast, Auriol’s account of conceptual thought is thoroughly direct realist. According to Auriol, the natures of external things themselves directly appear to us in conceptual cognition, without the mediation of inner images or other representational devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-97
Number of pages30
JournalOxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Peter Olivi
  • Peter Auriol
  • concepts
  • representation
  • direct realism
  • representationalism

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